Time for a Change?

I feel like I cover too many topics on this blog. From creative pursuits, to books, to travel and hiking, to pets…too much. I think I’m going to try to focus on one of those things, and maybe keep my other ramblings on another (or more than one other) blog.

Heads up for a change in the near future. Hopefully near, anyway. Hehe.

The Philippines – Siquijor Island

We recently came home from visiting what must be one of the world’s best kept secrets. This was our first time traveling to the Philippines (my first time traveling at all for pleasure, all my other trips had been for work) but it definitely won’t be the last! Obviously with so many islands, YMMV, etc. etc., as the Philippines also has crazy, bustling cities like Manila and smaller but still overwhelmingly busy towns like Dumaguete (probably not normally so busy, but it was the day before elections when we stayed there and WOW).

We rented this house off Air BnB (also our first time using them) and it was fantastic. Right on the beach, quiet, everything we wanted. It was the most beautiful place I’d ever been…the entire island, not just that spot.

IMG_2648This is their version of a taxi, simply called a tricycle…they’re everywhere! And usually with 5-7 people on them. It was awesome.😀

IMG_2655We went from Dumaguete to Siquijor in this, a canoe with a motor stuck somewhere in the back. 22 miles across the ocean. In a canoe, with the long horizontal boards tied together with plastic. O_O I felt SO adventurous.

IMG_2660This was the sunset that greeted us the first night we were there. I had truly never seen anything like it.

IMG_2665The Baja Ba’r was a short walk through a lovely garden from the house, where we had amazing food, drinks, and conversation with both locals and expats. The food was unparalleled, and they couldn’t have nicer people working there. Oh, and definitely try the Baja Special (the big orange drink there)…7 different liquors. It will knock you on your ass but in the best way possible!

DSCN0623The beaches were beautiful…lots of rocks just a little ways out.

DSCN0625Look how clear the water is! It stayed that way too…crazy. And stunning.

DSCN0642We visited an old Catholic church built some time in the 1700s.

DSCN0663aMy absolute, hands down favorite part of the entire trip – I could have spent every day here, or at least PART of every day! Cambugahay Falls.

DSCN0667Yes, the water really is that color.

DSCN0671And clear.

DSCF0137Amazing.

DSCN0653Oh yeah. Of course, being me…there was this tree. This gorgeous, ancient, amazing tree. I could have stayed here all day too, except it was SUPER hot and I was turning lobster.

I have tons more pictures (we took 507), but I will leave you with this video. It’s about 11 minutes long, but I couldn’t bear to cut any more out! This place was so amazing and we created some incredible memories.

 

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Apparently, yesterday was my 10 year blogging anniversary on WordPress.

Holy cow. Has it possibly been that long? Let’s not talk about how long I was on Xanga before that…haha.

Bug Warmer Handspun Project

I’ve been holding onto this project to share for awhile now, as I wanted the recipient to have it in hand before posting here. So without further ado…

I started with this fiber, 80/20  superwash merino sparkly nylon blend from Ginny at Fat Cat Knits in the gradient colorway Mon Ami.

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It spun up beautifully, the smoothest merino I’ve ever spun. Usually merino doesn’t behave well for me, it clumps and sticks together horribly. But this was an absolute dream and I spun the entire braid in 3 days. I can’t say enough good things about Ginny’s fiber prep and her color sense.

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I’m still not quite back in my grove with spinning. I was aiming for a worsted/aran weight yarn and ended up with DK. Oops. If the fiber hadn’t fluffed up a TON it would’ve been sport weight. I got 330 yards of 2-ply. I tried to keep the colors together as much as possible but of course there was some areas where, as I was plying, I could see there was just way too much mismatching of the sections, so I broke the ply. It killed me to throw away what probably ended up as about 30 yards, but I was a lot happier with the finished yarn. I could have split the top in half exactly in the middle and had a one-way gradient, but I split it lengthwise and so had a purple-blue-yellow/orange-pink-yellow/orange-blue-purple yarn.

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While I was overall very happy with the yarn, I still see a lot of inconsistencies in my singles and my plying is too loose. In my opinion.

Regardless, I picked the Bug Warmer baby sweater pattern (free on Ravelry) and away we went! It was a quick, easy knit and made my happy with every single stitch. I finished it in a couple more days and then after blocking it to even it all out – something I’ve found almost entirely necessary with handspun…it helps even with the more evenly spun yarn, but especially with my slightly uneven handspun – got it off in the mail to my lovely, adorable little goddaughter who looks like she will absolutely ROCK it.

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None of the pictures show the sparkle very well…it just looks like little bits sticking out but it’s really quite sparkly.

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I love how the colors blended right here.

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Ta-da! Oh, I did add a little leftover commercial yarn on the edges. AND, since I ended up with so much yardage I only used about half of the skein (hence the one-way gradient in the sweater). So now I’m trying to find something to make with the other half for either myself or Baby Girl’s mama.

That Feeling

I’m currently experiencing a massive book (series?) hangover, thanks to Melissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles. I tore through them all in exactly a week, and, well, yeah.

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Good Monday

Normally, this is me on a Monday.

But I had a truly lovely weekend, just hanging out with my husband. We didn’t really do anything (does laundry count?), but I got to work on a lot of projects and we watched some movies.

I wrote a few letters, and practiced making wax seals.


I worked on the never-ending quilt, and determined I’m 90% sure I’m going to run out of red thread. Ugh.


I finally picked up my Tree People socks again, and am almost to the heel now.


I spun two plies of this lovely Fat Cat Knits gradient (superwash merino/sparkle), and am with  difficulty waiting about 24 hours before plying because my singles don’t seem to be as twisty then. Ideally, I’d wait about 3 days but I just don’t have the patience. At all.

I finished “The Likeness,” by Tana French. Also my 15th book for this year, whoohoo! I am absolutely in love with this series and if you like mystery/police procedural books at all you really really MUST go start it. First one is “In the Woods.” Now go. Get it. Read it. Then come back and tell me thank you.

And of course, lots of snuggles with this little guy. The big guy too, but no pics of him.

All ready for St. Patrick’s Day!

 

The Little Quilter That Could

All together! Phew.

So, this quilt? I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Not only is it the largest I’ve ever made, it’s only the 3rd I’ve attempted to free motion quilt, 2nd on this machine, and only the 5th I’ve ever quilted, period. So, while that in and of itself is challenging enough, I was also too impatient to wait on ordering backing and batting from the States to finish it. DH kept asking if it was done and why I was working on something else…he’s so excited, it’s adorable. I love him.❤ Anywho, we decided to go down to the Korean fabric market to find stuffs to finish.

We found a very nice, but heavy navy cotton. Kind of like Kona but a tad heavier. The search for batting took longer. Google Translate doesn’t know quite what to do with the word and pictures weren’t that helpful either. After madly dashing around (the market was about to close), we found a store that looked like it was kind of a quilting supply store…kind of. And hallelujah! Cotton batting. It looked a little thicker than what I was used to seeing, but it felt and looked nice, and for 11 yards it was only about 45 US dollars.

He keeps trying to “help” and ending up only adding to my frustration. Good thing he’s so cute.

Fast forward to basting the quilt. When I picked it up off the floor, I staggered. It was shockingly heavy. Feeling the first real flutters of unease, I started it on the machine. First up was stitch in the ditch with a walking foot around the sashing. Which, while it still made my arms ache, wasn’t too bad. Took several hours, but it looked pretty good and I was happy with it.

One of the better sections.

Horrible, horrible. Red thread on white fabric = no forgiveness, at all. Stitch in the ditch obviously not for FMQ, only to be attempted with a walking foot. Lesson learned.

Doesn’t look as bad from the back, somehow. At least not to me, even if you can still see some of the wobbliness. Ignore all the fuzz.  

Well. Attempting to free-motion quilt…not. so. much. It’s horrendously heavy and no matter how I try to support it (granted, I only have an oval dining room table) it slides around so badly that every time I stop, I end up with a jagged stitch out of place. I’m very frustrated and just want it to be over. I’m glad my next FMQ project is already basted, backed with wonderfully soft, light Bella and with an almost paper thin cotton batting. And it’s only lap size.

On the bright side, even when I threw a literal temper tantrum over all the mistakes in the quilting, my husband declared he loves it and please stop fussing about it because he won’t notice my “mistakes” and if he does ever see anything it will just remind him I made it. Awwww.

28 blocks quilted, 52 more to go.

Creative Madness

Sometimes I think being creative is a curse. I mean, normal people don’t seem to wake up with a million projects and ideas running through their head. They don’t seem to prefer making things to socializing, or eating (though I do get HANGRY when I’m in a the midst of a project and have to stop). When I get in the grip of an idea or project it literally almost eats me alive. I don’t want to do or think about anything else. I really do try to balance it out with other things. Work, of course, but time with my husband too doing other things (movies, dinner). It’s just SO HARD to not be able to do it all at once!

I’m mainly talking about my quilting bug. Knitting, to me, is an inherently slower process and so the grip doesn’t take hold in quite the same way, though sometimes it does turn me into a very monogamous knitter.

Don’t worry, the machine wasn’t running. He was just spot-checking.

This quilt has been in the works for over 2 years. I bought the fabric in the winter of 2013, because I wanted to make a kind of tribute quilt for my then-boyfriend-now-husband, for his military service. Then all kinds of crap happened and it got put in a box. I hadn’t even finished cutting it. When my sewing machine arrived here this was the first project I thought of, but it still took me months to feel ready to pull it out and go to work.

I’m using the Quilted in Honor line of batiks from Island Batik. The red poppies especially just seemed perfect to me. My husband has given up a lot to serve his country, and several of his friends gave their lives. Art is a memorial, to me…and I hope that this quilt when finished will be that for him too.

“Done, Mama. Done for tonight. Pet me. Mama. Mama. Mama, STOP!”

Tristan was not impressed by how many hours I sat at the kitchen table, late into the night. He finally resorted to trying to grab all my tools with his paws. After about half an hour of this, I surrendered for the day.

Inspector General of Projects

IMG_1972    This is where my progress sits at present. All the blocks and sashing strips for a queen size quilt are finished (and pressed, though the sashing hadn’t been in this photo). Next up is appliqueing 99 stars to 3 1/2 inch squares…I’m kind of scared. This will be my first attempt at applique, and it will not be over quickly. Husband promises to help cut them all out though, and I’ve been reading tons of online tutorials so hopefully it won’t be too painful.

This is the quilt that is next up for quilting. I finished the top about two and a half years ago but never got to the quilting. I’m trying to decide what designs I want to use. Much doodling. Hehe.

Reading Life

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New year, new goals! I knocked my 2015 reading goal out of the park, the first year I’ve ever actually reached my number goal, which was 25. I read 69. Sure, the goal was low for the speed at which I normally read, but considering that in 2013 I only read 13 books (for real), and 2015 was going to entail some MAJOR life changes like moving to the other side of the world, I thought it was reasonable. Then I had more free time on my hands then I anticipated, and wham. Almost triple. Whoohoo!

So this year, my number goal is 50. I don’t anticipate moving this year, but we do plan on doing as much traveling as possible, and I have all these other hobbies that intrude on my reading time. My other goal is to finish every book I’ve bought and not read. Towards that end I’ve created a new page with that list. Enjoy my extremely random library (the whole thing is cataloged here…still working on the audiobooks and ebooks). This goal was inspired by my husband wincing over a new box of books arriving in the mail not too long ago, and the reminder that when we DO move back to the States they are the biggest contributor to our moving weight limit. Eeep. So I either read them, or give them away. And, I am going to attempt – key word – to go on a book-buying diet until I have finished the ones I have. All 45 of them (since I already went through and cleared out the 10 or so that I decided I didn’t want to read anymore). I am allowing myself a subscription to OwlCrate…I’ve enjoyed quite a few YA reads in the last year, and I am in absolute love with the literary goodies I’ve seen in pictures of boxes. And I’m just a sucker for subscription boxes in general.

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I’m really kind of bummed I missed out on the Poe zipper pouch.

My last reading goal is a challenge I’m doing with a bunch of pen-pal friends. I’m choosing 12 challenges out of a list to stretch my reading horizons. Books a little out of my comfort zone.

Will I go over 50? I sure hope so! But I wanted to set myself up for success. What are your reading goals for 2016?

Meow, Meow, Meow

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First, hope everyone had a very merry Christmas filled with light and love and laughter! I really missed being at home for all the usual family Christmas stuffs, but we had a great, hilarious, inebriated time with our family here. Haha. In other news…

I am in love. Head over heels hopelessly in love, with a beautiful little ginger kitty. I think he’s in love with us too.

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He certainly has a lot to say. As soon as my alarm goes off in the morning, it starts. Goes something like this.

Meow. Meow. Shhh. *fumbles for alarm* Meow! MEOW! SHHHH!! Meow. *dives out of bed for clothes and bathroom, trying to keep quiet so as not to wake the husband* Meow. Meow. Meow. Sssshhhhhhhh! *kitty flops onto back at my feet and squirms around on bathroom tile* Meow! *gives belly scratches* *kitty squeaks happily and loudly* *tries to get dressed* Meow. Meow. Meow. *husband throws pillows towards bathroom*

I’m really not sure how to cure him of the constant meowing. I keep thinking he needs something, so I go check food, water, litter box…all clean and full. I pick him up, he gets slightly lower in volume but continues meowing. The only thing that stops him so far is getting out toys and playing with him. After about 20 minutes of that he’s usually ready for a nap, but basically if I’m up and moving around he is following me and talking.

Can this be normal? And if so there must be a way to modify the behavior so it’s not CONSTANT. It’s kind of driving us crazy. Oh, and apparently when it is just DH at home, he’s quiet as a little mouse. What did I do??

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The little tongue just kills me.

Good thing he’s so cute.